My first semester at The College of Santa Fe (now the Santa Fe University of Art and Design), the school offered day trips you could sign up for that cost nothing or just a few bucks, and as a lonely freshman with few friends and no car, I was one of the first to put my name on the list.
(What can I say? Once a dweeb, always a dweeb…)
The first trip saw us all loaded into a big white van and driving to the famous Santa Fe Plaza for Indian Market. It’s an annual festival in town that showcases some of the finest native American art and craftsmanship you’ll ever see all in one place. After wandering around looking at the artist stalls, I was hungry, and got in line at one of the few food stalls for a “Navajo taco.”
And my life has never been the same.
If you’ve never had fry bread, it’s pretty much a life changing experience. The closest thing I can compare it to is sopapillas, but bigger, rounder, and usually topped or filled with a variety of yummy taco fillings. Ah-mazing.
Only problem is that I’ve never seen real fry bread outside those road-side or festival stands in New Mexico.
A while ago, a restaurant opened up in Westminster that said they had fry bread tacos, and I was SO EXCITED. But they were not what I remembered at all. Their fry bread was more like a pita, and much less like the crispy fried deliciousness I remembered from my college days.
So when Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery came on my radar, imagine my GLEE!
Tocabe’s roots are Osage, not Navaho, but the food is straight up delicious and exactly how I remember a fry bread taco should be!
Location: 3536 W 44th Ave., Denver, Colorado 80211
Claim to Fame: Fry bread tacos!
What we tried: I had the fry bread taco with ground bison, pinto beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and their awesome squash relish and mild roasted salsa. My mom tried the stuffed fry bread, which comes out kind of like a calzone, stuffed with ground beef and all the fixings, and my toddler had the kid’s fry bread taco with ground beef. We also had to have an order of fry bread nuggets — crispy little nuggets of fried gold tossed with powdered sugar (and drizzled with honey by us at the table).
Favorites: Everything was really delicious, but I preferred the traditional fry bread taco over the stuffed version for the texture. Would love to try the shredded bison and chili beans on my next visit.
Unexpected: Bison ribs? I’m all over that the next time we visit! (If I can tear myself away from my beloved fry bread tacos…)
Atmosphere: It’s a fast-casual place — think Chipotle, but for Native American food. The dining room is bright and friendly, modern and chic, and there’s a nice outdoor patio as well.
Kid friendly?: Absolutely! They have a kid’s menu with a kid-sized fry bread taco and other options. Kids will go bananas for the fry bread nuggets, too.
Photos courtesy Tocabe Facebook page.